After years of preparation and countless hours of training, 16 players have been selected to represent the Australian men’s hockey team at the Olympics. Six experienced athletes will travel to London for the Games with ten players who will make their Olympic debut and realise a life-long dream.
The Kookaburras took home bronze from Beijing four years ago but for the world number one team, it's gold they want in London.
Head Coach Ric Charlesworth said while the past week had been stressful for selectors, his thoughts were with the exceptionally talented players that had missed out. “It is our job to make judgements about balance and covering every base but in the end there are players that are unlucky,” he said. “This has been a long process over 12 months and many factors were considered.”
The Kookaburras leadership group will be led by five time World Player of the Year, Jamie Dwyer and will include Mark Knowles, Liam De Young, Eddie Ockenden and Fergus Kavanagh.
Star striker Des Abbott will be joined in the team by his cousin Joel Carroll, who has filled the opening on the backline, after Graeme Begbie suffered a serious knee injury in May. “Joel earned his spot in the team through consistent performances this year. At the start of the year he was probably outside the 16, so he played his way into the team,” Charlesworth said.
Young striker Matt Gohdes, who is Jamie Dwyer’s first cousin and drag flick specialist Kieran Govers are exciting prospects and are expected to be key players to watch in London. “Both played well at last year’s Champions Trophy and have progressed solidly and Kieran will be an option drag flicking on penalty Corners alongside Chris Ciriello,” he said.
Midfielder Tim Deavin will join fellow Tasmanian Ockenden in the line-up in his first Games. “We really need his energy, he is a workhorse and we rely on his creative play in midfield,” Charlesworth said.
Goal scoring machine Glenn Turner had hip surgery last year to give him-self the best chance of selection, which has paid dividends.
Goal keeper Nathan Burgers has now cemented his place as the number one keeper in the team after a strong challenge from George Bazeley and Andrew Charter. “He has a huge responsibility and a very important role and I hope he feels like there’s a lot of work to be done yet,” Charlesworth said.
The fight for selection is not over yet however, as two reserves will be picked and there are injury clouds over others. “There is still a contest on for the other two spots and the final squad doesn’t have to be handed over until July,” Charlesworth said. The extra six players that will compete in a three test series in Cairns next week against New Zealand will still be vying for a trip to London. “With our recent injury history, there is some doubt this will be the final 16 we take,” he said.
Matthew Swann, Simon Orchard, Liam De Young and Matthew Butturini will travel to Cairns to participate in the team's preparation but won’t play due to their injuries.
Des Abbott, Nathan Burgers, Matthew Butturini, Joel Carroll, Chris Ciriello, Tim Deavin, Liam De Young, Jamie Dwyer, Matt Gohdes, Kieran Govers, Fergus Kavanagh, Mark Knowles, Eddie Ockenden, Simon Orchard, Matthew Swann, Glenn Turner
Source: Hockey Australia Press Release